April 24, 2002
GM of Canada engineer wins “Boss” Kettering award
Oshawa, Ontario – GM of Canada Truck Assembly Centre paint engineer Norm Weigert has been named the winner of one of nine “Boss” Kettering Awards, honours instituted in memory of Charles F. “Boss” Kettering, General Motors Corporation’s former head of research. The awards were announced yesterday.
The award to Weigert resulted from development of the “Aquabell,” an innovation now being used to apply base coat paint to the Chevrolet and GMC full-size pickup trucks built at the Oshawa Truck Assembly Centre. Use of the technology produced $1 million in savings last year and has the potential to annually trim paint costs by more than $5 million.
Aquabell’s bell-shaped applicator applies waterborne colour paint robotically, using electrostatics, while ensuring that the desired vehicle colour is achieved. Paint is also applied more efficiently, requiring about 22 percent less to cover a vehicle. The reduction in the amount of paint sprayed also reduces the volume of emissions released into the environment.
Weigert said that, “There were many challenges and problems to solve with the technology. As a result of a true team effort, we were able to develop a paint applicator which is cost-effective and helps reduce air pollution while maintaining the quality in the products which our customers have come to expect.”
This “Boss” Kettering Award is the fourth such win for GM of Canada personnel. In 1987, tooling analyst Ernie Flonders and supervisor Stanley Wiacek of the St. Catharines Engine Plant won with a milling cutter. In 1996, Windsor Transmission Plant engineer Mario Zanet won for developing a “flow-forming process” which resulted in price and equipment savings in production of automobile transmissions. Last year, James Kielstra, Robert Middleton, Terry Martin and Jeff Murray from GM Defense in London were recognized for their part in developing the “height management system” for GM’s light armoured vehicle (LAV), which was a key factor in the award of a US$4B contract to build over 2,000 LAVIIIs for use by the U.S. Army.